Grapes of Wrath Biblical Allusions

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John Steinbeck carefully molded his story The Grapes of Wrath to encompass many themes and ideas. He included several Biblical allusions to enforce his message of the migrating families coming together to form a community. Steinbeck alludes to Biblical characters through Jim Casy and Rose of Sharon, events like the family's journey to California and the flood at the end of the novel, and teachings throughout the novel.

The Biblical allusions represented by the characters in the novel are most obvious in the characters of Jim Casy and Rose of Sharon. However, the Joad family is made up of twelve including Connie, much like the twelve disciples that followed Jesus. Connie represents the traitor, the Judas figure who had betrayed Jesus the night of his arrest when he walks out on his family for selfish reasons.

Jim Casy is an allusion to Jesus Christ. They have the same initials and live their lives as examples of their beliefs; Jesus to the world and Casy to Tom. Casy even compares himself to Christ when he says, "I got tired like Him, an' I got mixed up like Him, an' I went into the wilderness like Him, without no campin' stuff" (105). In the first half of the book Casy is thinking and forming his ideas. He changes from a thinker to a man of action when he sacrifices himself for Tom. When in prison Casy sees the advantage of organizing people to achieve a common goal. When Casy tried to put his ideas into action he, like Christ, aroused the antagonism of the people in authority and was brutally killed. He died, like Christ saying to his crucifiers, "You don' know what you're a-doin'" (495).

Rose of Sharon represents a Biblical allusion towards the end of the novel. After she gives birth to her stillborn child, she gives life to a starving man by breast-feeding him. Her sacrifice suggests the notion of rebirth through Christ's physical body which is symbolized in the ritual of communion. When she tells the man to drink her milk she alludes...
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